The first month of the 2013 minor league season is behind us. Many White Sox prospects got off to slow starts (here’s one), but there were a few that had successful Aprils.
Let’s take a look at those players, but first an affiliate roundup. Charlotte is 7-20, tied for last in the International League. Two affiliates have winning records. Birmingham is 15-10, which has them tied for the Southern League’s best record, and Winston-Salem is 13-12. Finally, Kannapolis is 10-14.
Hitter of the Month: Micah Johnson
Stats: .302/.390/.488, 15 RBI, 19 R, 5 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 20 SB, 12 BB, 22 K in 86 AB
Johnson’s hitting numbers are solid, but not outstanding. However, most of the buzz he’s generating is from the staggering 20 stolen bases. He leads the South Atlantic League and the nearest base stealer has 15. Johnson was a ninth round pick in 2012 and a postseason all-star in the Pioneer League in his pro debut. He stole 19 bases in 69 games for Great Falls so the recent explosion is a sign of the Sox allowing him to be more aggressive on the base paths. An injury kept him out for most of his junior year so maybe the Sox got a bit of a steal.
Josh Phegley (AAA): .294/.392/.529 with 4 HR, 8 BB and 13 K in 68 AB
Seth Loman (AAA): .274/.454/.493 with 4 HR, 14 BB and 26 K in 73 AB
Jason Coats (Low-A): .337/.379/.432 with 7 BB and 15 K in 95 AB
Phegley and Loman both showed power with Charlotte. If they both sustain that White Sox fans will probably start asking for them to come up as reinforcements with the way the big league club is hitting.
Coats has been a pleasant surprise. It was evident he was talented from his college career at TCU, but he is off to a flying start for Kannapolis. He was a relatively safe pick as a sleeper this year and is proving that to be true.
Pitcher of the Month: Erik Johnson
Stats: 1.44 ERA, 32 K, 9 BB, 18 H in 31.1 IP
The final winner of 2012 is the first winner of 2013. Johnson has emerged as the top pitching prospect in the system. Considering he’s pitching so well in AA it seems like a matter of time before talk of his big league promotion begins. Johnson obviously will need to maintain this level for a while longer first, but a MLB debut in 2013 doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.
Ryan Kussmaul (AA): 17 IP, 0.53 ERA, 19 K, 5 BB, 7 H
Daniel Webb (High-A): 15 IP, 0 ERA, 19 K, 5 BB, 10 H
Chris Beck (High-A): 31 IP, 1.45 ERA, 19 K, 10 BB, 22 H
Kussmaul and Webb are both relievers, but are very different. Kussmaul, 26, is a fringe prospect at best due to his age while Webb, 23, is noteworthy thanks to his plus velocity. Webb struggled with Kannapolis last year, but is handling himself well with Winston-Salem.
Beck is exciting because he was once thought of very highly when he was in college. Any return to that form would make him one of the best prospects in the system. The strikeout rate is disappointingly low, but the control is the there and ERA is low.